Food Network Magazine (July/August 2011)
Last Monday, Drew and Ralph came over for dinner and we served this punch. More on that in a moment.
Since then, we've had a whirlwind week. Here are a few things that happened:
- Wednesday night, we boarded a plane to Portland, Maine, where we rendezvoused with Zach's family for a 70/30 trip (his stepfather was turning 70; his sister, 30).
- We spent one night in Portland, where we ate at Fore Street, which we think is just about the coziest, most romantic restaurant we've ever visited. It has an extensive, seasonal menu, a big, open kitchen and it's housed inside a really cool old building. We had some amazing mussels, an excellent steak and a to-die-for pork chop.
- Thursday, we headed to the seaside town of Camden for a few nights of what became a blur of lobster and naps.
- Clay read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which is excellent); Zach's been slugging through Cloud Atlas (which is fascinating).
- We met up with our friends Dan and Wendy for a sail on Penobscot Bay.
- Also with Dan and Wendy, we went to a field day out in the tiny village of Montville, where we witnessed a 90-plus-year-old woman compete in a cross-cut saw competition. It was one of the highlights of the trip.
- Some of our party hiked Mount Battie in Camden, but the two of us couldn't be pulled away from the back deck of the house where we were staying.
- We had the chance to revisit one of our all-time favorite restaurants, Chase's Daily in Belfast, Maine. Nestled on the gallery-crammed streets of Belfast, it's a vegetarian restaurant that's only open for dinner on Friday nights. We ordered a bean salad (with amazing toasted almonds) and cacio e pepe to start. For entrees, we had a lasagna that included beets and a pizza topped with braised fennel and figs (delicious!).
- We played some fierce games of Scrabble with Zach's mom B.
- Lots and lots of naps.
- And, as mentioned, there were many, many lobster rolls. We think our favorite of the weekend might be the one from J's Oyster in Portland. (If you go, get the Bloody Mary. It's one of the Top 3 we've ever had.)
The one thing we didn't get around to was making this punch a second time. We had planned to, and we're sure Zach's family would have loved it. But we would have needed to go find elderflower liqueur, plus some champagne, and that, honestly, seemed like a bit of a chore on vacation. So we opted for simpler cocktails instead.
Still, this Peppery Punch is a fantastic summer drink to have up your sleeve.
When we made this punch the first time, for that dinner with Drew and Ralph, we loved its peppery spice. The gin-Champagne-elderflower trio is a lovely combination of flavors, with the juniper of the gin, the lavender-honey sweetness of the elderflower and the fizzy bubbles.
Of course, what really stands out about this punch is the black pepper. It lends a great kick and a heat to the fizzy punch, tempering the sweetness in a perfect, refreshing way.
It was the perfect -- and, be warned, stiff -- start to a summer meal. We drank in the backyard, laughing and catching up.
We'd happily make this punch again. It's a great, festive drink for everything from chatting with a few friends in the backyard, to a family get-together in Maine (we assume). It would even be great for a large party.
Just make sure you scale the recipe up appropriately. Wouldn't want anyone fighting over the last cup.
(This photo: Food Network Magazine)
Total Time: 10 min
Yield: 8-10 servings
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 cups gin
- 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur (such as St-Germain)
- 2 cups champagne
- Sliced lemons, quartered strawberries and freshly ground pepper, for garnish
Make the simple syrup: Bring the sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves; let cool.
Combine the orange juice, lemon juice and 1/2 cup simple syrup in a punch bowl. Add the gin and elderflower liqueur and stir. Fill with ice, then add the champagne. Garnish with lemons, strawberries and pepper.